Justin Lewis-Anthony at Comment is Free:
Close your eyes and picture a vicar of the Church of England. Whether you are a regular churchgoer or someone who once watched an episode of The Vicar of Dibley, your mental image will more than likely be this: a smiling, benign, inoffensive and unworldly cleric. This image has its origins in the life and ministry of one man, George Herbert (1594-1633). The memory of priest, pastor, poet and polemicist is revered everywhere, inside and outside the church. A contemporary diocesan bishop sets as required reading for his clergy Herbert’s treatise, The Country Parson. In September 2005 Country Life awarded the prize of “Britain’s Best-Loved Rector” to a man whose ministry could be read directly from the same pages. The generations of “telly-vicars” in All Gas and Gaiters, Dad’s Army, The Vicar of Dibley, and Jam and Jerusalem, are the direct successors of a half-remembered and half-digested picture of Herbert’s exemplary country parson.
Find out why this is not a good thing from Father Lewis-Anthony, who showed hospitality to a rag tag band of Americans during the Lambeth Conference, and who blogs at 3 Minute Theologian.